Dave Allen at Large (1971–1979)
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I don't have too much to say about Dave Allen or his show, other than he was a comic genius. His vignettes, his stand up material where he usually sat in his chair on a stage before an audience as he delivered zingers and funny stories, it was all entertaining.
Unlike Benny Hill who did largely burlesque, Dave Allen's material was a little more high brow. His sketches and jokes didn't rely on sex nor body functions, and usually were just poking innocent fun at history and society as a whole.
There's nothing much more to add, other than don't think about his humor too much. Take it for what it is. Just love and laugh the legacy he's left us.
'Large' combined sketches with monologues, the latter delivered by the man himself, smartly dressed, seated in a chair, cigarette in one hand, a glass of whisky ( or something ) perched on a nearby table. His style was all his own. He was cool. Unique ( With more and more modern comedy performed to speed, just think if Dave were appearing on television today, his act would probably be regarded as 'too slow'. It used to take him three minutes just to light a cigarette and get comfortable. ) He told stories on a wide variety of topics, but mainly about religion as he had had a strict Catholic upbringing in Ireland, and took delight in mocking the subject. On one occasion, he even told a creepy horror tale, and held his audience spellbound.
A number of stock characters evolved in the sketches, including a would-be revolutionary constantly trying to blow up 'El Presidente', and a Pope-like figure always being carried around in a chair. One of my favourite items had monks arguing over porridge, a dispute culminating in a messy fight. Another had rival undertakers' firms competing with each other to see who could get to the cemetery first. And there was a 'Robin Hood' spoof too.
He would sign off with "Goodnight, and may your God go with you.". Note the 'your God', and not just 'God'.
Aiding and abetting him were a number of talented comic performers such as Michael Sharvell-Martin, the late Ronnie Brody, the late Peter Hawkins, and the attractive Jacqueline Clarke. Future 'That's Life' presenter Chris Serle was a regular in the first series. The catchy theme tune was 'Blarney's Stoned' by Alan Hawkshaw.
When the D.V.D. finally appears, why not reacquaint yourself with one of the funniest men ever to grace a television screen?
Allen lived near here at some stage, in a sort of retirement. It didn't seem to matter what age he was, though, he always bore an odd resemblance to my old man (and they were about the same age)....
R.I.P. Dave Allen. You left many fond memories for this viewer.
One of my favorite skits had him dressed as a bishop with a robe, miter and staff. (Religeon was one of his comedy foils, but he'd always emphasize he was just having fun.) He was in a litter being carried by two men. Across the field, they spotted a rival bishop, also in a litter. The two men glared at each other, lowered their staffs, and had their litter-bearers run at each other like they were in a joust. I liked it.
ONCE WE Americans had acquired a taste for "the Lumberjack Song", the Dead Parrot Sketch" and "Silly Walks", the PBS big shots were chomping at the bit for more. Soon we were treated to THE GOODIES, THE TWO RONNIES, NO HONESTLY and, of course, BENNY HILL.
IN THE MIDST of this, we found DAVE ALLEN AT LARGE, a half hour hosted by an Irishman, whose preference seemed to be the somewhat lost art of the story. In short, he was good at telling jokes. That surely was his strong suit; although he did participate in the show's sketches.
DRAWING ON HIS own life experiences, the show features a lot of "Catholic Funnies", as well as a liberal dose of situations involving the Age Old Irish-English feud.
OTHERWISE, WE FOUND this Dave Allen guy to be a fine host, who made us feel right at home in front of our TV sets, right in that time slot that followed MONTY PYTHON on Channel 11, WTTW,PBS in Chicago. It was on Sundays at 11:00 PM.
With little more than a stool, a drink, and a cigarette (okay, so that's not politically correct - I never claimed to be), Dave can have you in stitches simply with his facial expressions and accents. Add to that the periodic sketches, and you have a show that's worth its weight in gold.
He was a storyteller and that's something that is in short supply today. He didn't just tell the joke. He weaved it into a story that kept you mesmerized and then BAM! Hit you with the punchline that would more often than not have you roaring with laughter.
Sadly he's no longer with us but his comedy remains.
Unlike Monty Python, there were no animations, and the humor was more conventional and less silly (for the most part). Also, Dave Allen was clearly the star and boss, unlike Monty Python whose members spread the work. The skits were on a huge variety of scenarios and themes, more than Monty Python would do, though the show's focus was largely on pop entertainment such as old Westerns or spy movies or sword-and-sandals epics or science fiction.
So how did things work out? Some moments were very funny while others bombed. Perhaps this was inevitable in any variety show.